Amazon to acquire book recommendations site Goodreads

The world's largest online retailer Amazon said on Thursday that it had agreed to buy popular book recommendations site Goodreads, which has over 16 million members. The purchase of the niche social network would help Amazon sell more physical and digital books.

The site was founded by Otis Chandler, the grandson of longtime Los Angeles Times publisher, six years ago.

The deal, the most prominent acquisition of a major book-focused start-up in recent years, signals the growing interest of Amazon in expanding its reach to all corners of the consumer world. Books have, however, remained a core interest for Amazon, which was founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos. Though the two companies have not disclosed the purchase price, according to a technology blogger who cited sources, the deal was worth about $150 million, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Goodreads website allows members to list, rate and review books they had read, cite and share passages, and discover new books using the recommendation tool on the site. It has also become a niche social network for avid readers, with users able to see what their friends were reading, comment on their reviews and join online discussions and book clubs.

Meanwhile, Author's Guild president and best-selling novelist Scott Turow has condemned Amazon.com's purchase of Goodreads, calling the acquisition a textbook example'' of how a monopoly is built, in a statement posted yesterday of the Guild home page.

Chandler, though has defended the sale, which had triggered a debate about Amazon's market power.

Chandler said in a blog posting Thursday on Goodreads, that it would continue to operate independently and that Amazon's resources would help his company reach more readers.

According to analysts, with the acquisition of Goodreads, Amazon gets a community of bibliophiles primed to buy and recommend books - one of its key areas of business.

"Goodreads has helped change how we discover and discuss books and, with Kindle, Amazon has helped expand reading around the world," Russ Grandinetti, Amazon vice president, Kindle Content, said in a release.